A European Commission consultation piece could bring lower tax rates for small wine and spirits producers – but is threatening the UK RTD industry.

The consultation was launched quietly at the end of August and is only just coming to light across the trade.

Many RTDs are classed as made wines rather than spirits because of the way they are made, and so enjoy a lower duty rate than they would if classed as spirits.

But excise duty consultant Alan Powell has told OLN the European Commission, under lobbying from some of its member states, has been waging a war on these drinks for nearly a decade – claiming they are misleading consumers.

He said: “This consultation is dynamite. It contains an underhand attack by the Commission on particularly UK products. This battle has been won in law, and now they have brought it into this questionnaire to imply something fishy is going on when it isn’t.”

The consultation also asks respondents to comment on whether small wine and spirits producers should enjoy similar low tax rates to small breweries.

Anyone classed as a business can take part in the consultation – and Powell urged retailers to take part themselves as well as contacting their trade bodies to get involved.

He said: “It is an opportunity to have your say and have a say in formulating European and national law.”

The third important issue in the consultation is the abuse of industrial alcohol, which can contain harmful chemicals but is being bottled and sold as spirits by some criminals – a small but growing problem in the UK.

You can find the consultation here: http://ec.europa.eu/taxation_customs/common/consultations/tax/2015_alcohol_en.htm